Horse floats are a significant investment. Whether buying new or second hand we want them to stand the test of time, as well as keep our precious horses and ponies safe. With so many choices for horse float flooring, how do you know which one is best?
First, it is good to understand what your options are and what the benefits of each is:
Horse Float Flooring Types
For decades, tried and trusted timber was the go-to product for a float floor though over the past decade, it has fallen out of favour, with most manufacturers moving towards alternate products. Why the change?
Two main reasons; 1, true laminated hardwood timbers have become scarce and expensive to source and 2, the low cost engineered ply timbers available today from most common timber suppliers suffer from a significant drawback. They are susceptible to urine rot and delamination. In the simplest of terms, the urine gets into the timber and dissolves the glue that holds the laminates together making it highly venerable to failure. None of this is typically detectable until it’s too late due to the fact it happens between the floor rubber of the float and the timber rot and cannot be seen via a normal under body inspection until it’s about to break through or worse, after its happened.
Aluminium is a seemingly good alternative, does not rot easily, lightweight and relatively strong.
So why are so many manufacturers still not using it? it also suffers from several problems though maybe you can live with some of these as it’s still a reasonable product; Deficits:
Rigidity: Aluminium can be very hard on horses due to a lack of flex and in some cases can cause the animal’s stress. Some riders have reported their animals unrideable at the arrival of an event using Aluminium floored trailers
Heat: Aluminium is an excellent thermal conductor and this is why it’s used as a heat sink in all modern electronics, for its ability to transfer heat. If you drive on hot roads, that heat will quickly transfer into and build up inside your float often leading to temperatures far higher than ambient. This can lead to a disaster for your animals if not properly managed.
Noise: Aluminium is also an excellent sound transfer material, unlike timber, it cannot absorb but rather it amplifies sound. This means your animals experience a significantly higher level of road noise than with other materials.
Rot: There are two main causes of Aluminium rot in a horse float, one is high salt urine typically found in animals undergoing respiratory therapies and or racehorses who live on high salt diets. Salt can eat through an aluminium floor in a matter of months if not carefully managed. the second cause is will occur anywhere on your float that aluminium and steel are in constant contact and whilst a slow process will eat the aluminium from the joint outward. This process is known as electrolysis.
Fibreglass has been the standout new product over the past decade following its introduction by Imperial floats back in 2011. It seems to have most of the benefits of the other products with none of the deficits bar one. It cannot cope long term with high salt diet animal urine. Whilst a slower process than other floor types, the salt will eventually delaminate this product over time. Additionally, fibreglass in rare cases, does not perform well with animal weights exceeding 650kg over the long term. On the plus, there are over 7,000 floats across Australia fitted with the fibreglass floor system with a very low incident rate when compared to other flooring products so if you don’t have a racehorse or an animal that requires high salt contents in its diet or is over 650kg it’s definitely a front runner and it remains an overwhelming success as a flooring product.
This product is a game changer and deserves its own page of information; It is the only product that cannot rot, can’t be broken by impact or weight, is not affected by any form of urine or liquids whatsoever and is lifetime guaranteed. It’s fair to state that there is nothing else in the global market at this time that we can compare it to and therefore it’s in a league of its own.
Imperial Horse Floats use Polexium flooring and are leading the charge on flooring tech innovation. For more information you can chat with their team.